First-time writer-director Seth Michael Donsky has hit upon a clever idea: Why not rework Oliver Twist as a modern-day tale of male prostitution, replacing Charles Dickens' urchins and pickpockets with New York City call boys? Unfortunately, that's about
as far he takes it. Lee (Keiven McNeil Graves) is our updated Oliver, a 10-year-old runaway from foster care. Thanks to the wiles of rent boy Arthur (Jean Loup) -- better known among his clientele as "Fine Art" (read: the Artful Dodger) -- Lee falls into the clutches of nasty old Andre (the late
William Hickey), a creepy Fagin-like operator who runs a house of hustlers. Luckily, Lee soon finds his Nancy in the shape of Angel (David Norona), a would-be singer-songwriter who is forced to turn tricks by his lover Eddie (Anthony Crivello). Eddie, an abusive drug-dealer, threatens to beat
Angel to a pulp if he doesn't comply -- which would make Eddie Sikes. Had enough? If not, there's a black drag queen named Shinqua (Billy Porter) who's bound to be somebody or other. But other than this quickly tiresome game of who's who and a few cliches, Donsky brings little to his characters,
and his threadbare story lacks any of the moral purpose that allows Dickens's tale to transcend its own almost unbearable cruelty. Sadly, Hickey is just awful in what turned out to be one of his final screen appearances -- his slithery performance is as irritating as it is ridiculous --and the
whole thing is shot through with a bogus sentimentality that could even make a big softy like Dickens groan.
Game of Thrones Season 8 Complete Coverage
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